Gang of Five Justices Ignore Law, Will of Elected Representatives

Jesse Jackson | 7/6/2018, 8:50 a.m.
We are witnessing an astounding attack on democracy by the five male right-wing majority of the Supreme Court -- "black ...

We are witnessing an astounding attack on democracy by the five male right-wing majority of the Supreme Court -- "black robed rulers," Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan called them, "overruling citizens' choices" in a series of 5-4 decisions.

These are right-wing lawless judges ignoring the laws and will of our elected representatives and trampling the dictates of legal precedent. Their arrogance seems to have no bounds. The damage that they have already done to our democracy is profound.

The most recent 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court was the case of Janus v. AFSCME. The majority, throwing out the laws of state legislatures and legal precedent, ruled that state legislatures cannot authorize public employee unions to collect a fee for the cost of bargaining and representing workers who benefit from the negotiations but don't want to join the union.

Protecting freeloaders seems bizarre, but the court's ideologues are interested less in upholding the law and far more in weakening the workers' voice as represented by unions. Now in states across the nation, right-wing corporate funded groups will launch campaigns to get workers to quit their unions in the hope of dramatically weakening the voice of teachers, sanitation workers, police officers and firefighters.

The decision is but one of many undermining our democracy. A right-wing majority gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder. This term, the five upheld Texas redistricting that lower courts found discriminated against minority voters. In Citizens United, five conservative judges - again ignoring law and precedent - held that corporations could not be prohibited from spending money in elections. Somehow corporations, they suggested, had the same political rights as citizens.

The gang of five has also systematically favored corporate rights over women's rights, gay rights, consumer and environmental protection. That the Congress - elected by the people - passes laws expressing different values doesn't deter them. They have elevated themselves as "black robed rulers," legislating their own choices from the bench.

Now Justice Anthony Kennedy has chosen to resign, apparently timing his announcement so President Trump can use the fight over his successor to rouse his base in the upcoming elections. (That suggestion gains credibility with the revelation that Kennedy's son, working at Deutsche Bank, lent Donald Trump and his operations nearly a billion - with a b - billion dollars at a time when U.S. banks wouldn't go near him because of his record of bankruptcies and scams.)

Kennedy gained a reputation as a "moderate" because of his votes on abortion and on gay marriage, but he has been a leader in the assault on democracy and the elevation of corporate rights over worker rights. Now, his resignation is timed so that Trump can name, and the Republican majority in the Senate confirm, a younger right-wing zealot to carry on the assault on democracy.

In the Civil Rights movement, we looked to the Supreme Court to enforce the Constitution against the Jim Crow laws of the apartheid South. Now we must take back the Congress and the statehouses and rally the democratic bodies against the usurpations of the ideological majority of the court. Only if the pressure is constant will one or more of the Justices realize the dangers and errors of their course.